Saturday, December 18, 2010
It Must Have Been Amazing . . .
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them . . .
The glory of the Lord! Wow! There they were, out at night, tending their sheep and a mighty angel from Heaven appears, and the glory of the Lord comes down also. A simple word search of the Old Testament will reveal that the glory of the Lord isn't just some "feeling" or "warm fuzzy" because an angel is around. It is the weighty, tangible presence of our holy God in some way I don't fully understand. A small sampling of the many verses in which we find it mentioned makes that abundantly clear:
Ex 24:17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.
Ex 40:34-35 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
1 Kings 8:10-11 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
2 Chron 7:1-3 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
Ezek 1:28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
It is no wonder, then, that the shepherds were, ". . . filled with fear." There was an angel—reason enough—and the glory of the Lord. I can only imagine that in a moment these men, who were raised under the Law and who knew much about God's holiness and justice and wrath, and little about His love, were filled with terror. His glory must have, in a moment, destroyed any pretense of their own goodness or righteousness as they were in the presence of His holiness. How their righteousness must have suddenly seemed as filthy rags, and how terror must have filled their souls. But then . . .
"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people...” and the message of a Savior—One to save and not condemn them, One to do what they could not, One to free them, One to make them right with God—was given! No wonder it was proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest!" At that moment there is no chance they could have claimed any glory for themselves. His manifest presence and holiness would have stripped them of any pretense and it would have been clear to all—man and angel alike—that God alone was doing the salvation, and to Him be the glory!
How they must have been filled with joy as they went out, found this good news to be true, and returned glorify and praising God and telling what they had seen and heard! It must have been amazing . . .